One lawmaker predicts a statewide smoking ban is inevitable.
As another Wisconsin community considers a county-wide smoking ban, their efforts might be moot because state senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) says he'll push hard to ban the habit in all public places throughout the entire state. "And I think society has an obligation to protect its members as much as possible."
The Madison Democrat says over the years, second hand smoke has become one of the more serious problems we need to address. Dunn County in west central Wisconsin is considering a county-wide smoking ban, according to the Eau Claire Leader Telegram . La Crosse is the state's first county to ban smoking. As the longest-serving state legislator, Risser has been a pioneer on smoking issues. "I've been very active in smoking regulation. I can remember back in the 1950s when I started out in the legislature I introduced a bill to limit smoking to those over the age of 16, because at that time there was no age limit at all. You could smoke at any age." Risser recalls being the only lawmaker to vote for the bill that would outlaw smoking among the youth.
As the author of the original Clean Indoor Air Act, which limits smoking in many public places, Risser says a statewide ban is inevitable. "Already over 15 states have statewide bans and other states are coming in line. And when you have the big states like California and New York able to handle these bans, there's no reason why other states shouldn't do it. In my opinion, it's just absolutely inevitable that it will come about. If it doesn't come about in this session maybe next session, but we're going to work on it."
In addition to smoking regulation, the four-time Senate President is pushing environmental issues, the arts, ethics and campaign finance reform.
NOTE: The smoking issue could go to the Dunn County Board for consideration in either March or April, after a couple of public hearings which are planned for February 13 and March 13.